Below are some words from Father Richard on the Transfiguration...
It is hoped to start live Services again from Palm Sunday, 28th March 2021 at 9.30am if all goes according to plan. This will then lead us into Easter. Please check web-site for further details regarding all the Holy Week services nearer the time.
Genesis 22; Psalm 115; Romans 8; Mark 9
Yesterday I was looking at some photos taken almost two years ago of a holiday after Easter. I was on top of mount Snowdon. I have to admit I didn’t walk it, but took the train. The atmosphere and the views were amazing and it felt quite different from down below – colder and with the sun glinting on the patches of remaining snow. Mountains are wonderful places from which to survey far and wide, but also places not to be taken lightly.
In the book of Exodus, a mountain was where Moses received the law on behalf of the people of Israel. The people were warned off touching the mountain and only Moses could ascend to encounter the living God. The prophet Elijah, as told in the First book of Kings, also climbed a mountain where he had a powerful experience of the presence of God.
Today we hear how Jesus invited three of his disciples to climb the mountain with him. There we are told that Jesus was transfigured and that his clothing shone with an unearthly brightness. Not only that, but Moses was with him and Elijah too, both of whom lived centuries before but who in their own lifetime had encountered the glory of God on a mountain. Jesus was seen to converse with the one who received the Law and the one who was a great prophet. In Jesus the Law and prophecy were to be fulfilled.
No wonder the disciples could not understand and no wonder that Peter, normally so confident, was overcome by fear and began to babble. In this dazzling revelation Jesus was seen clearly, not in the old familiar way, but in the glory of the one who was the Messiah, the Son in whom the Father was well pleased. In dazzling light and in the overshadowing cloud, the disciples experienced a revelation of the glory of God in the presence of Jesus.
The experience seemed to last only for a short time until they saw Jesus once again in a familiar way. They did not understand what he meant when he told them to tell nobody of their experience until he had risen from the dead. Climbing back down from the mountain, they would begin a journey that they could not yet comprehend. The glory of God would once again be revealed through the humanity of Jesus, but this time that glory would shine through the Cross.
From a mountain we can glimpse a wider landscape. The journey the disciples were to walk with Jesus would be one which could only be understood within the landscape of God’s plan of salvation. Luke’s gospel tells us that what Jesus had spoken of with Moses and Elijah had been his departure or exodus. The exodus journey on which Moses had led the people of Israel had been a departure from slavery in Egypt – a journey that led to the Promised Land. With Jesus, the departure or exodus would be a liberation from the slavery of sin and the power of death. It would lead into the fulness of life, now and always.
Jesus invited his disciples and he invites us also to walk that way with him. It is not a promise of an easy journey. At times it will be tough, but along the way we can keep before us the promise of leaving behind us all that keeps us captive and all that keeps us imprisoned by fear. As we take up our cross and follow Jesus we make a journey towards the fulfilment of God’s promises and into newness of life.
Our experiences at this time may be ones of hope, mingled with the anxiety and weariness that can still remain. Jesus gave his weary and frightened disciples a glimpse of the glory of God and they descended the mountain with a higher perspective. They had heard the voice of the Father from the cloud: “This is my son, the Beloved, listen to him.” Only by continuing to listen to Jesus and by allowing his words to take hold of their hearts, could the disciples be strengthened to face what lay ahead. They still got things wrong, but came to see that the Lord they followed was always with them.
We have the same Lord Jesus Christ with us and we meet him in word and sacrament and through the life of the Church. Through faith we can even have those occasional glimpses of glory. Jesus is God’s beloved Son, but we can know that we too are welcomed as sons and daughters with whom, despite our faults, the Father is well pleased. So even when we cannot see clearly the way ahead or feel that we walk through a deep valley, let’s continue to trust in the Lord who leads us. As we take up our share in his Cross, let’s remember that Jesus also invites us to share in his Resurrection glory.